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Any Norway in a Nutshell experts out there? Need guidance!!

I love trip planning but for the life of me planning out our Norway in Nutshell portion of vacation is thoughly confusing me. Would love a bit of guidance from those who are experienced in planning out this trip.

While we have a Eurorail pass for Scandinavia (we'll be in Denmark before this trip) and I know that will give us train access for the Nutshell I am starting to think it makes more sense just for ease for us to book a package with FjordTours for the train from Oslo to Bergen. Thoughts?

We would like to break up the journey from Oslo to Bergen and have booked one night at the Balestrand Hotel before we continue on to Bergen.

Main questions:
1. How do I book the Nutshell tour so we go on day one from Oslo to Balestrand (understand it may be a train, bus, ferry thing)?
2. How do I then book so we can rejoin the Nutshell tour the next day going from Balestrand to Bergen?
3. Are there specific tours off the train that we should book and then rejoin the train? How to book all that?
There is no online chat agent on the Fjord Tours website for me to ask these questions (would be helpful!!) but you all have been immensely helpful with our summer Scandinavian trip so hoping those familiar with this could help me with the steps (i.e. train from Oslo to ?, etc.).

Thanks as always fellow travelers!

Posted by
12221 posts

There are five sections to Norway in a Nutshell. (You will have more to get to Balestrand and back.)

The regular portions are:

1) Train from Oslo to Myrdal. (This is the regular train that goes from Oslo to Bergen.)

2) Train from Myrdal to Flam. (Flam Railway)

3) Ferry from Flam to Gudvangen.

4) Bus to Voss

5) Train from Voss to Bergen. (Same train that you left at Myrdal but on a different day.)

I can't help on the Flam to Balestrand route but I believe it is on a ferry.

When I took Norway in a Nutshell, I booked each part separatley because I wanted to overnight in Flam. I prebooked everything excet the Bus to Voss. I was told I could just get on a buy a ticket as I board. The buses were lined up as we docked. When one bus was full the next one pulled up.

All this was pre-covid so things might have changed.

This website might help with the Flam Railway and Ferry to Gudvangen.

https://www.norwaysbest.com/packages/flam-railway--fjord-cruise-naroyfjord/

Posted by
89 posts

Here's a link to the Norled express boats that run from Flam to Balestrand, and also from Balestrand to Bergen:
https://www.norled.no/en/maps-and-schedules/expressboat/sogn-and-fjordane/
If you're willing to go from Flam to Balestrand; one or more overnights in Balestrand; and then on to Bergen you can do it with Norled, which takes you from Balestrand to the mouth of Sognefjord and then down the coast to Bergen. I did this a few years ago and it was very convenient, but it does skip the Naeroyfjord portion of the usual Nutshell tour.
If you do go to Balestrand, I'd recommend more than one overnight as it is a very interesting town. Here is more info about things to do in Balestrand. I'd especially recommend doing the local hike to the top of the mountain, and the first two things on this list: fjord sight-seeing in an RIB, and the fjord & glacier tour:
https://www.balestrandadventure.no/
And more possibilities:
https://www.norwaysbest.com/things

Posted by
5818 posts

Good tool for plannng and booking Norwegian train and long disantce bus (coach) travel is: https://www.vy.no/en
(VY replaced othe NSB train website.) Note that you can only view and book train trave about 3 months before travel. That being said, the minipris dicounted train tickets are quantity limited and sell first come first serve.

Posted by
22504 posts

Does the rail pass cover the Flamsbana train? It's a private railway costing NOK 450 one way; I'd be surprised if you get more than a discount on the Flamsbana, but I am only guessing. The rail pass should cover Oslo-Myrdal and Voss-Bergen (or Myrdal-Bergen), but I don't know how to get seat reservations (I think mandatory for Oslo-Myrdal, and those trains could sell out) when you have a rail pass and don't need to pay for a ticket. I assume it isn't too difficult; things seem to run efficiently in Norway.

I found it easy enough to buy the train tickets (including the Flamsbana) on the vy.no website; I just had to pay via PayPal because Vy didn't like either of my credit cards. I don't know whether vy.no sells just the Flamsbana ticket; it used to sell only through tickets between Oslo and Flam. You might have to get the Flamsbana ticket from NorwaysBest. I'm pretty sure you'll pay more if you buy regular train tickets (from Oslo and to Bergen) from NorwaysBest, and it would be a shame to waste money after paying for the rail pass.

I used the NorwaysBest website to buy the ticket for the Flam-Gudvangen ferry. I believe it also sells tickets for the express boat linking Balestrand to Flam and Bergen.

I think the express boat only goes to Flam once a day, which makes staying in Balestrand rather awkward if you want to do Flam-centric things. I believe Rick recommends staying in Balestrand only if you can do so for at least 2 nights. Flam is not particularly charming, but it is very convenient.

I would not choose to travel from Balestrand to Bergen via the express boat if it meant missing the more-scenic Flam-Gudvangen ferry trip. Bus 950 from Gudvangen to Voss is also scenic.

Posted by
55 posts

We just did the NIN trip, stopping for two nights in Flam, which we all loved as a favorite spot in Norway. Side note, we booked ahead of time the big buffet dinner at the Fretheim hotel, and though it was pricy, it was fantastic. About $69 per person. By far our most expensive meal in Norway.
I also thought the NIN was confusing but as I was booking for 11 of us, I went through Fyord Tours. The website is straightforward and menu driven so I was able to book everything in one place, including the 2 day Flam stop. I imagine there is a surcharge for booking through a company, but it was easy, including very specific instructions about each leg, and seat assignments on the Myrdal-Oslo leg.

Also, I used Fyord tours to porter one of our suitcases ahead to our Oslo hotel, and I was glad of this. Although there is room on every leg of the Nutshell for luggage, I was glad to be relieved of one of our bags.

Posted by
26 posts

Thank you all for your comments. Need some more guidance:

I have gone on the Fjord Tours website and since most of what I've read now people seem to say that is pretty easy to use. So I went on their site and I selected the Sognefjord in a Nutshell tour as that would include bringing us to Balestrand where we have an overnight stay. My problem is I cannot seem to customize the reservation online so we can stop in Balestrand and then pick up the remaining trip to Bergen the following day. The website seems to only allow to do the entire trip in one day. I know that is wrong so what am I missing?

If anyone can offer assistance on this please let me know. I need to book this ASAP as our travel dates are in a few weeks and my preferred time to leave Oslo is already full.

Thanks1